Yamaha NMax 125

Motorcycle sales grew in 2019 thanks to commuters

Scooter commuter in London

Unlike new car sales, UK new motorcycle registrations grew in 2019, partly thanks to commuters and youngsters buying ever-greater numbers of scooters.

107,408 new motorcycles were sold in Britain last year. That’s a fraction of the 2.31 million new cars sold, but the figure is still growing, albeit at just 1.5 percent.

High-powered superbike riders aren’t driving the growth, though. Sales of such extreme machines were down an eye-watering 16.9 percent during 2019.

Instead, it’s the gradual growth of three key sectors that’s helping the motorcycle sector expand – with Britain’s second-favourite type of motorcycle, the scooter, up 2.1 percent.

Yamaha NMax 125

So-called ‘naked’ bikes – stylish machines with minimal bodywork – are our top ride of the moment, with 2.2 percent growth taking the numbers sold last year to over 34,000.

Adventure sport bikes, such as the BMW GS used by Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor in the Long Way Round, are the fastest-growing sector, up 5.9 percent last year, and Britain’s third-favourite type of bike.

Motorcycle trade body the MCIA believes it will be further growth in the scooter sector that powers the industry in the near future.

“With their light weight, ease of parking, and ultra-low or zero emissions, more and more people are realising that powered light vehicles (PLVs) represent a perfect alternative to traffic-bound cars and vans,” said MCIA spokesman Nick Broomhall.

“In addition, many electric PLVs feature removable batteries that can be charged at home or work, from a conventional wall socket.”

Yamaha NMax 125

In December 2019, the best-selling scooter in Britain was the Yamaha NMax 125, pictured above. It can be bought new from £3,174, officially averages 122.8 mpg and emits just 52 g/km CO2. 

Best Bike Awards 2016

Best Bike Awards 2016: the UK’s top motorcycles revealed

Best Bike Awards 2016The Auto Trader Best Bike Awards 2016 have been revealed, celebrating the very best in the UK motorcycle market. It’s a sector in great shape, and 2016 has been a classic year for new model launches. Auto Trader has chosen the very best of the best.

British bike market in 2016

Best Bike Awards 2016

Almost 80,000 new motorcycles have been registered in the UK already in 2016, a healthy rise of nearly 6% on 2015. Although sales of entry-level bikes are down, bigger-engined motorcycles are doing well: the 126-650cc category is up an impressive 8.4%.

The biggest new bike category is for stripped-back Naked bikes, beating even Scooters and Adventure Sports bikes in the popularity stakes.

Biker boom

Best Bike Awards 2016

There are now 1.25 million motorcycles in use on UK roads, a number that’s been growing over the past few years. There are lots of active riders in Britain and, as bikes become ever-better and boast ever-more-attractive deals, many will be in the market for a new machine.

Here’s the pick of the UK new bike market in 2016.

Best bike for AM licence holders: Peugeot Django 50cc

Best Bike Awards 2016

The 50cc motorcycle 16-year-olds should be riding in 2016 is the retro-look Peugeot Django 50cc. It retains the award it won last year for its combination of cool looks and everyday usability. There’s even a 12-volt charger, so smartphone obsessives can top up their battery on the move.

Best bike for A1 licence holders: Honda CB125F

Best Bike Awards 2016

Riders aged 17 should hot-foot it to the local Honda dealer to pick up a bargain-priced CB125F. Not for nothing is it the UK’s best-selling 125cc machine. It costs from just £2,699, does 151mpg and looks far cooler than you’d ever believe a beginner’s motorbike could.

Best bike for A2 licence holders: Honda CB500F

Best Bike Awards 2016

Riders aged 19 or over can choose a full-size motorcycle that’s restricted to 47hp. Once they pass their full test, this restrictor can be taken off. The best choice here is, again, a Honda; the CB500F is the perfect step-up machine from the CB125F.

Best Scooter: Vespa GTS 300

Best Bike Awards 2016

Who doesn’t want a classic Vespa? Now there’s reason to want a modern Vespa: the GTS 300 has scooped this category three years running and Auto Trader says it’s hard to see anything beating it. It even has heated grips for winter!

Best Commuter: Honda NC750X

Best Bike Awards 2016

Commuter motorcycles should be painless and easy to ride, with a good seating position for excellent visibility. Cue the NC750X, a genuine twist-and-go machine with clutchless transmission and, new for 2016, cooler and edgier looks. Again, it’s a three-time category winner.

Best Naked: Triumph Speed Triple R

Best Bike Awards 2016

The most popular new motorcycle category in Britain right now is the Naked sector. Ooh-err. Aggressive looks, minimalist bodywork and savage power make them real thrillers – none more so than the 138hp race-bred Triumph Speed Triple R.

Best Retro: Triumph Thruxton R

Best Bike Awards 2016

Retro bikes are more classically-styled Naked machines – and Triumph has this sector sewn up too, with the beautiful Thruxton R. It builds upon the established Thruxton range with improved dynamics and engine power. “It’s the retro Triumph you’ve been waiting for,” said Auto Trader editor-in-chief, Jon Quirk.

Best Adventure: Honda Africa Twin

Best Bike Awards 2016

We’ve been waiting a long time for a new Honda Africa Twin, but at last it has arrived – and Auto Trader says the wait has been worth it. It’s one of the best motorcycles to come out of Honda in years, and is “a phenomenal all-rounder… If you want a reason not to buy a BMW GS, this is it”.

Best Tourer: BMW S 1000 XR

Best Bike Awards 2016

Planning on riding across Europe this summer? You need a BMW S 1000 XR. It’s a superbike engine in a sports touring chassis that, says Auto Trader, creates the motorcycle equivalent of a performance SUV. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a BMW X5 M for riders.

Best Sports: Yamaha YZF-F1

Best Bike Awards 2016

The fearsome Yamaha R1 has done it again. A sublime track bike, Auto Trader reckons it’s a bike that wins over both head and heart in an instant. It’s also a race bike for the road that you can thrash all day long without fear – mechanical integrity is second to none. “It’s staggering,” say the editors.

Best Cruiser: Indian Springfield

Best Bike Awards 2016

You may not have heard of the Indian motorcycle company but you’ll certainly have heard of the motorcycle brand it’s beaten to best Cruiser 2016: Harley-Davidson. The Springfield has “the ride quality of an ocean liner and a finish that out-luxes all-comers.” Just for added reassurance, it even has a five-year warranty. Born-again bikers, you need this in your life!

Best Manufacturer 2016: Triumph

Best Bike Awards 2016

Despite building more than 54,000 motorcycles overseen from its Hinckley, Leicestershire HQ, Triumph keeps on innovating, with models such as the Thunderbird, Bonneville and modernised Speed Triple range. It’s a brand that shows the future really is looking bright for the British motorcycle industry, says Auto Trader – which is why it didn’t hesitate to award it the Best Manufacturer 2016 gong.

Best Bike 2016: Honda Africa Twin

Best Bike Awards 2016

The Auto Trader judges were unanimous in picking the new Honda Africa Twin as their Best Bike 2016. They said its ability both on- and off-road is “staggering”, the engine is superb, it’s comfortable to ride and it offers tremendous value for money. An all-round champ that stands clear as Britain’s best in 2016.

Guy Martin and Triumph in world land speed record attempt

Guy Martin and Triumph in world speed record attempt

Guy Martin and Triumph in world land speed record attemptGuy Martin and Triumph Motorcycles will attempt to break the motorcycle world land speed record this month at Bonneville Salt Flats with a target speed of more than 376mph.

Martin, himself a multiple speed world record holder (and Isle of Man TT legend, and all-round top bloke), will ride the Triumph Infor Rocket Streamliner – a 1,000hp streamlined motorcycle powered by two turbocharged Triumph Rocket III motorcycle engines fuelled by methane.

It’s a motorcycle like no other: made from carbon-kevlar, it’s more than 25 feet long, two feet wide and just three feet tall.

Triumph Infor Rocket Streamliner

The current motorcycle world land speed record stands at 376.363mph, held by American Rocky Robinson who set it in 2010. To beat it, Martin will have to ride faster than this staggering motorcycle maximum speed twice over the Bonneville measured mile.

And he can’t wait. “The Triumph engineers have built an amazing machine, giving us the very best chance to beat the two-wheeled land speed record.”

It’s not the first time Triumph has challenged for the motorcycle speed record either – Triumph Streamliners through the years have been the world’s fastest motorcycles, with one of the most dramatic being the Gyronaut X-1 which claimed the record in 1966 and held it into the 1970s.

Its top speed? No less than 245.667mph. In 1966!

Honda PCX 125

On your bike: commuters buy most motorcycles since 1983

Honda PCX 125

Motorcycle sales are at last looking up in the UK, with the Motorcycle Industry Association reporting sales for 2015 topped 114,000 – the highest annual total since pre-recession 2008 days.

And it’s commuter motorcycles that are driving the upturn; more of this category of bike and scooter were sold in 2015 than since records began in 1983.

Almost 44,000 commuter two-wheelers between 101-125cc were sold in 2015, continuing growth in this category that stretches back to 2011 when fuel prices first began to rise.

“Motorcycle dealers have been reporting an increase in families swapping a second car for a motorcycle, to beat the misery of sitting in traffic during rush hour,” said Steve Kenward, CEO of the MCIA.

“Motorcycles and scooters can filter through slow moving traffic and are tremendous fun, with riders tending to rate their commute more enjoyable than other transport users.”

The forecast for 2016 sales is positive too. “We anticipate 2016 will see further growth on 2015 numbers, and predict sales of around 124,000,” said Kenward.

Cars are still easily more popular than motorcycles, however. Last year, the SMMT reports more than 2.6 million new vehicles were registered.

Ducati Monster

British bikers rush to go naked

Ducati MonsterThe 2015 revival of the motorcycle sector continued in September with official registrations figures recording a 15% overall rise – and it is the naked bike sector that is helping lead the growth.

Sales of naked bikes are up 28.3% year-on-year, helping accelerate an overall market that’s seen 10,000 more motorcycles registered thus far in 2015 than last year.

The big bike sector of 651 – 1000cc is also up 26.5% compared to last year.

The growth of naked and larger bikes comes at the expensive of mopeds: this sector is down nearly 13% compared to 2014, and even scooter motorcycles only posted a 4.6% rise.

A stark contrast is found in the engine size registrations: 0 – 50cc is down 12.3%; 651 – 1000cc is up 26.5%.

Overall, 13,536 motorcycles were registered in September 2015, meaning the yearly total stands at almost 94,000.

It’s a welcome recovery for an automotive sector that was hit badly by the recession: what’s more, with 1.2 million motorcycles currently in use, it means a market renewal rate approaching 10% in one year alone.

Bosch motorcycle ABS

Motorcycle ABS ‘prevents 1 in 4 casualties’

Bosch motorcycle ABS

Motorcycle ABS anti-lock brakes are now fitted to a third of all motorbikes made in Europe, with component supplier Bosch revealing this market share has risen 600% over the past six years. Read more

Suzuki Hayabusa

Brit attempts UK-to-India Suzuki Hayabusa record ride

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Royal Enfield Goodwood

WWII rider despatched to Goodwood on Royal Enfield duty

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ARIEL ACE motorcycle

Ariel Ace motorcycle revealed: now Ariel takes to two wheels! 

ARIEL ACE motorcycle

Iconic ‘naked’ sports car manufacturer Ariel has revealed an all-new product – the Ariel Ace motorcycle! Read more

Honda motorcycle training

Honda UK launches Honda School of Motorcycling centres

Honda motorcycle training

Buy a bike, learn how to ride it – Honda dealers can now literally help people saddle up and go

Wannabe motorcyclists in the South of England will soon be able to train at a new Honda School of Motorcycling. Read more